08 Sep Dating and Relationship Advice
Dear Rabbi and Shira,
It’s that time of the year that we leave the five towns and visit my in- laws family in LA. You might think it’s great. I don’t have to cook for yom tov or pay for expensive seats at our local Shul but for me it’s a nightmare. My in-laws though they are well meaning, love to parent my children and they have different parenting styles than me. They have different beliefs about expectations of what the children should be doing such as insisting that children sit at the table throughout the whole meal, and are constantly asking my kids to clean up their toys. If they don’t, they raise their voices at them. I have a more carefree attitude towards raising my kids and I don’t mind a mess. I also don’t mind if they don’t sit at the table for more than 5 minutes. In my opinion, kids should be kids. The worst part about this Is the more my in laws enforce the rules, the more my kids act defiantly and don’t listen. Then I look like a lousy mother. I love my in-laws, but I am not sure how to deal with this situation. Should I continue to let things be or should I say something?
-Law and order in LA
Dear Law and Order,
This sounds like a tough situation! All families have different rules and dynamics which make them run. Family get-togethers can make memories for everyone, but at the same time can cause some friction between different (or similar) personalities. If this is true for a sunday barbeque, imagine how people are affected by spending 2-3 days together, with very little outlet for escape! First of all it’s important to consider that your in-laws may think they are actually helping because you haven’t told them otherwise. They may not realize they are undermining. As long as you are passive, nothing will change. You can choose to keep quiet, but we fear ultimately your resentment and frustration will be too much and you might break down. With some planning and open communication, we believe that you’ll be able to keep the Tov in your Yom Tov! We are wondering if you discussed this entire situation with your husband? You should review your strategy together, from how you both will take care of the children to how to have a discussion with your inlaws so that yomtov will be as pleasurable as possible for everyone. When considering strategy, ask yourselves, is there a specific time that over the course of yom tov that it becomes more difficult? When is it? What are possible solutions to de-stress We’d like you to consider that while having the grandchildren over can be very exciting, it also is very disruptive in a person’s schedule. It could be they are used to a quiet, orderly life, and then the boisterous grandchildren from the east come in and shake things up. Can you find a way to decrease the behaviors which irritate your in-laws? Is there a way, or to share with your husband that it’s time to take the kids out so that their grandparents can have some quiet time? It’s important to understand that everyone has different ways of raising children, and different expectations based on the way that they grew up. You are not a bad parent, you might just have a different style of parenting then your in-laws. Have a good Yom Tov, and a Ketiva V’chasima Tova,
-Rabbi Reuven & Shira Boshnack